The Banshees of Inisherin, Plan 75, Joyland and Unrest: TIFF REVIEWS

The cast of In Bruges reunite for another very dark comedy, a 21st century answer to Soylent Green, a queer Cannes hit and a Swiss anarchist drama.

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) runs from Sept. 8–18, 2022, and you can read our fourth dispatch below and see our previous reviews here.

The Banshees of Inisherin

The Banshees of Inisherin

It’s 1923 on the island of Inisherin off the coast of the Irish mainland in Martin Mcdonagh’s The Banshees of Inisherin. A Civil War is waging across the waters, but the residents of the poor little town have all forgotten what they’re fighting for. As he does every day, Pádraic (Colin Farrell) picks up his friend Colm (Brendan Gleeson) to go to the pub. One morning, though, his friend doesn’t answer the door; at the window, he sees his friend just sitting alone, smoking in a room, seemingly ignoring his calls. As he walks over to the pub, he wonders if they’ve been “rowing” and he just forgot. It turns out that no, it’s just that his friend no longer likes him. Colm thinks Pádraic is a dullard and would rather devote his life to music than gossip about inanities with his friend all day.

As you can imagine, Pádraic doesn’t accept this new reality lightly. At home, he discusses with his sister Siobhan (Kerry Condon), whether or not Colm might be depressed. Openly, he wonders if he is indeed the dimmest man on the island, though they both agree Dominic (Barry Keoghan) wins that distinction. Unable to leave his alienated friend alone, Colm offers a terrible ultimatum: Every time Pádraic talks to Colm from here on out, Colm will slice off one of his own fingers. Ruthlessly hilarious and relentlessly dark, The Banshees of Inisherin parallels some of the intricate pettiness of the Irish national character as it also muses on the question of legacy. What value do “nice” people bring to society, particularly if they will be easily forgotten? The performances are spectacular, and it’s unquestionably one of the year’s funniest films. The movie wavers between almost devotional tenderness (particularly Pádraic’s love for his animals, especially one miniature donkey) and senseless cruelty; a movie that, at its core, questions authoritarianism and how we determine our values. (Justine Smith)

The Banshees of Inisherin has an Oct. 21, 2022 release date. 

Plan 75

Plan 75

At 78, Michi (Chieko Baisho), the gentle lead in Chie Hayakawa’s debut feature Plan 75 is leading a full but somewhat precarious life. She has a tight-knit group of friends with whom she works as a hotel cleaner, but off work, they rent karaoke rooms and giggle about “splurging” on mackerel at the grocery store. However, when a series of losses strip her life of its fullness and meaning, a new government initiative: Plan 75, begins to appeal to Michi.

Plan 75 is simple: with virtually no questions asked, citizens over 75 receive a $1,000 reward for committing assisted suicide. Hayakawa noted that while she was not inspired by the scenes in Soylent Green (1973), which this conceit recalls, she’s seen it since and points out that Soylent Green is set in our present: 2022. Unlike Soylent, however, Plan 75 never steers into a sci-fi realm, instead treating every bureaucratic act with a banal realism that is much more frightening.  

A side plot involving Maria (Stefanie Arianne), a Filipina worker hired at one of the Plan 75 facilities, is intriguing but not sufficiently fleshed out. Maria feels introduced to us more as a generalized representation of a family-centric society than as a person. Her character is positioned in too-easy contrast to the individualism and indifference that Hayakawa is critiquing in a Japanese context.

Nevertheless, Plan 75 still manages moments of both genuine heartbreak and a few of surprising levity. Hayakawa takes her time laying out not only Michi’s increasing loneliness but the isolation that seems to plague even the younger characters in her film. There are, towards the end, some less-assured choices that lean into sentimentality that doesn’t fit the otherwise restrained film, but on the whole, Plan 75 remains affecting and thoughtful. (Nora Rosenthal)

Plan 75 does not currently have a Montreal release date.



Fresh off of winning the Queer Palme and the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, Joyland will likely be met with love and acclaim from North American audiences. With Joyland, Pakistani writer and director Saim Sadiq adapts his short film Darling (TIFF 2019) into a queer family saga. Haider Rana (Ali Junejo) lives with his wife Mumtaz (Rasti Farooq) and his traditional family in Lahore. Despite seeming content to stay at home to help his sister-in-law Nucchi (Sarwat Gilani) raise her daughters, Haider feels pressure from his father to get a job. So, he auditions as a backup dancer for an exotic trans performer, Biba (Alina Khan). Despite not knowing how to dance, he books it. It’s a little unclear why someone with limited dancing is hired in the first place, but Sadiq does show an extensive, and often funny, rehearsal process. Now that Haider is working, however, Nucchi is left to care for her children alone. Haider’s wife Mumta is encouraged (i.e. forced) to quit her job to join Nucchi as a homemaker. Spending less time at home, Haider drifts away from Mumta, with whom he shares a passionless marriage, and draws closer to Biba. Sadiq treats their relationship with sensitivity and nuance as Haider’s and Biba’s unfolding desires intertwine and disconnect. Joyland complicates desire in compelling ways by asking how sexuality can invalidate other people’s identities.

Sadiq depicts the complicated web of intersecting oppressions and struggles with great care. The film can only handle so many secrets but not every thread is resolved. That being said, something is satisfying about this inconclusiveness. The film mostly eschews harmful clichés often seen in queer cinema. There is no brutal violence or climactic public shaming of Sadiq and Haider. Sadiq knows to leave them to their private grief in a world that would love nothing more than to air them out in the open. (Sarah Foulkes)

Joyland does not currently have a Montreal release date.



The clocks are ticking in a watch factory in a valley of North-West Switzerland in 1877. In this small village, a movement is growing; anarchists are creating organizations and pamphlets. While most of a collective story where blocky, architectural landscapes dwarf people, our two protagonists are Josephine, a factory worker who produces a small part called the Unrest, and a Russian cartographer, Piotr Kropotkin, a traveller and aspiring anarchist. At the precipice of the modern world, the film focuses on questions of time and how our perception of it often reflects how we view the values and shape of our society itself. (There are four different ways of counting time in the village: Church, municipal, local and factory.) While new technologies such as photography also shape a new way of seeing, thinking and experiencing the human condition, we can understand this rather understated historical moment as one loaded with the potential to shift the future (one that never came to be).

Unrest lacks great emotion and narrative precipice. It takes the romantic notion of revolution and renders it in practical and uncomplicated terms. The film’s soft light and beige-ness have a certain pastoral beauty, where human ingenuity still seemed somewhat in harmony with the natural world. Throughout the film, though, all these tools end up being abused in service of capital and oppression. Even time becomes co-opted by capitalists to enforce higher demands on its workers doing delicate work; it becomes an excuse to dismiss movements to improve working conditions, etc.

While Unrest exists within the narrative filmmaking framework, it remains somewhat distant and might be a bit of a struggle for a broad audience. That being said, its subject is so compelling and its construction so daring that it will probably still prove to be inspirational. (JS)

Unrest does not currently have a Montreal release date.

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